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09.02.08

U.S. Falling Behind In Internet Traffic

By Chris Crum

Last week, U.S. cable provider and ISP Comcast put a cap on monthly broadband use, and now there are reports surfacing that the U.S. in general is falling behind when it comes to Internet traffic. This is not a direct result of the Comcast situation, but with Comcast being the 2nd largest ISP in the country, it's certainly not going to help.

What is really happening is that countries are waking up and realizing that they don't want to be dependent on others. John Markoff from the New York Times writes:

Indeed, more countries are becoming aware of how dependence on other countries for their Internet traffic makes them vulnerable. Because of tariffs, pricing anomalies and even corporate cultures, Internet providers will often not exchange data with their local competitors, preferring instead to send and receive traffic with larger, international Internet service providers. This leads to odd routing arrangements, referred to as "tromboning," in which traffic between two cites in a country will flow through other nations. In January, when a cable was cut in the Mediterranean, Egyptian Internet traffic was nearly paralyzed because it was not being shared by local ISPs but instead was routed through European operators.


As a result of this mentality and other national security issues, the U.S. is losing what was once a largely dominant presence in the amount of Internet traffic flowing from country to country. China now has a bigger presence, and they censor everything.

Providers in the U.S. even seem to be putting up barriers. Aside from Comcast's monthly cap, the big companies aren't putting up money for more efficient Internet use - things like lower-cost optical fiber lines, as Markoff notes.

"This has to lead one to wonder what is going to happen to the US in the large global Internet scheme of things," says Mashable's Steven Hodson. "When you consider that it is being run by companies who don't appear to be interested in advancing the technology anymore and you have countries going around them for various reasons it doesn't bode well for the country."

Perhaps American companies will step up in the future and make greater efforts to combat the situation. Maybe Google will buy an ISP and save the day. They do tend to keep branching out.


About the Author:
Chris Crum is a staff writer for WebProNews and iEntry Network.
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